How to get your credit reports

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Q. What’s the easiest, most “private” way to get a copy of credit report? Don’t want to request online as we have had three identify thefts.
— Playing it safe

A. Getting your credit report online is the fastest way, but there are other options.

First, remember that everyone is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — once every 12 months.

AnnualCreditReport.com is the website you can use to order your reports, but if you want to stay offline, you can call (877) 322-8229, said Jody D’Agostini, a certified financial planner with AXA Advisors/The Falcon Financial Group in Morristown.

You can also go online to download forms to make the request by mail.

“You will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and your date of birth,” D’Agostini said.

When you get your reports is a choice.

Because there are three major credit bureaus, D’Agostini said, you could request these at different times throughout the year, or get one every four months. If you think there is an error, you many need to request all three at the same time, she said.

In terms of what’s the most private, the credit bureaus use high level security protocols when you order your reports online, so you probably don’t have to worry. But if you download your reports to your computer, make sure your computer is protected.

Given your privacy concerns, you should know that others can see your report.

“Anyone that has a legitimate business need can gain access to your credit report, such as anyone that you are seeking credit from, or who has granted you credit, banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, insurance companies, any government agency, utility companies, any application for government licenses,” she said.

Email your questions to moc.p1601002154leHye1601002154noMJN1601002154@ksA1601002154.

This story was first posted in February 2016.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.